Championship flight pairings set at state am

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Like magnets, they stood on opposing poles of the Beau Pre Country Club driving range hitting Top Flite practice balls well after wins in the first round of match play at the 70th annual Mississippi Women’s Golf Association State Amateur Tuesday.

They share an equal disgust for the other’s alma mater.

But if you’re looking for some personal animosity in a second round championship flight match between Renee Chastain and Niki Peel at 7:46 a.m. today, go fish.

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&uot;We met up some against each other in college, but that was in stroke play,&uot; said Peel, who played golf at Ole Miss in the early 1990s when Chastain finished at Mississippi State. &uot;I’ve always had a lot of respect for her and her game. She’s got a lot of great shots in the bag.&uot;

The Southeastern Conference rivals highlight a jam-packed Day 2 of match play today, which will see those golfers in the championship flight play perhaps 36 holes.

Amanda Mathis, 18, of Picayune, who currently holds the State Am title, is up against a formidable opponent in Jackson’s Sheila Haynes in the first championship flight match of the day at 7:30 a.m.

&uot;We’ve played a couple times, and (Haynes is) a real competitor,&uot; said Mathis, who was a winner 7 and 5 over Mary Hays Tuesday. &uot;She’s a lot of fun, and we should have a good time either way it goes.&uot;

The other two showdowns in the State Am’s premiere flight contain just as compelling storylines as Chastain-Peel and Mathis-Haynes.

Less than 10 minutes after Mathis-Haynes gets under way, an all-junior match between Tupelo’s Alexis Rather, 18, and Leigh Phillips, 16, tees off.

Rather, an LSU golf signee, won 7 and 6 over Carolyn Barker, while Phillips held off fellow Meridian-native Lou Hart 4 and 3.

&uot;I’m excited. It’s gonna be fun,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;Alexis is one of the nicest people out here. We’ll have a good time, and it should be interesting.&uot;

A rematch from the 2000 State Am finals that was held at Beau Pre rounds out the morning session of

the championship flight at 7:54 a.m.

Cissye Gallagher, wife of PGA Tour player Jim Gallagher Jr., goes head-to-head with Pam Posey, who defeated Gallagher for her first title three years ago in Natchez.

Posey expressed a great thrill to play with Gallagher because the two get along so well on the course together; however, she hopes conversation won’t serve as a distraction.

&uot;It’s relaxing, but I’ve got to focus on my game instead of just visiting,&uot; said Posey, who downed Karen Arseneau 5 and 3. &uot;I love playing with Cissye. She’s a lot of fun, and a great player as well as a person. I’m sure we’ll have a good time.&uot;

Chastain, the top medallist in Monday’s qualifying round with a 1-under

71, was pushed to the limit against Samye Johnson Tuesday.

One up at the turn, Chastain fell behind one when she lost the opening two holes of the back nine.

Chastain encouraged herself to pick up her game to avoid falling into the consolation bracket.

&uot;It was like (Monday) when I made a couple bogeys, I told myself I needed to hit fairways and greens,&uot; she said. &uot;Before I was trying to be too good out there, instead of relaxing and playing my game.&uot;

Chastain got on pace by winning the next three holes (Nos. 12-14), and finishing Johnson off 3 and 1 on No. 17.

For Mathis, she took advantage of some Hays’ lip-out putts, in addition to making four birdies in a 7 and 5 win.

Beau Pre’s tricky, undulating greens are starting to reveal their secrets, Mathis said, which makes her comfortable with each approach shot.

&uot;I try to keep the same amount of consistency for every shot,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s impossible to do it all the time if you’re not Tiger Woods, but I try. The short pars are just as important as the birdies.&uot;

Similar to Chastain, Peel fought off a pesky charge from Peggy Benandi to win 2 up on the last hole.

With just two strokes separating Peel’s 76 from Benandi’s 78 in Monday’s qualifying round, Peel knew she was in for a barnburner.

&uot;I had to bulldog my way through it,&uot; she said. &uot;All of us in the middle of the championship flight know they’re going to be some tough matches.&uot;

And not one any tougher for Peel than today’s breakfast date with Chastain on No. 1’s tee box.

&uot;She’s going to be steady in the middle of the fairway and on the greens,&uot; Chastain said of Peel. &uot;I figure it’ll go longer because both of us will be so relaxed. I have no idea who will win.&uot;

&uot;(Monday) when I saw the pairings (for the qualifying round) I was real happy because we always enjoyed playing in college. It’s going to be nice for both of us.&uot;